Earlier this year, a partner in Malawi shared the story of Blessing (her name has been changed for privacy reasons). Blessing, aged five, was heartbreakingly raped last year. After having learned what happened, her family reached out to our local gender based violence crisis counsellors at the Home of Mercy in Malawi. Blessing is now one of the many children who benefit from attending bi-weekly counselling sessions geared towards young children who are survivors of sexual abuse.

In the past year, Blessing has undergone tremendous healing through these counselling sessions where survivors have the opportunity to hear about God’s great love and healing power. Here Blessing was able to regain trust in her counsellor, family and other children her age. Furthermore, Mrs. C, the Community Mother for survivors, has supported Blessing in redeveloping positive self worth through facilitating the discovery of her identity, acceptance and significance in Christ.

Recent statistics published by Malawi’s Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) shed light on the growing issue of gender based violence among women in Malawi. According to Malawi’s 2015-2016 MDHS, 21% of women reported they had experienced sexual violence at least once (Government of Malawi, 2017).

That is 1 in 5 women in Malawi.

Perpetrators of violence against women are often family members with many women often facing more than one form of violence (physical, sexual or psychological) (UN Women, 2013). In addition to having experienced violence, 49% of women have not accessed gender based violence support resources nor have they confided in family or friends regarding their experiences (Government of Malawi, 2017).

As a means to combat these statistics your partnership is empowering local Christian leaders in Malawi to diligently implement gender-based violence mitigation initiatives.

The Home of Mercy is a rape crisis centre, established in 2010, which provides safe shelter, counselling, education, biblical training, basic medical care, food and access to employment skills training opportunities for victims of gender based violence and their children. The Home of Mercy is one of the first of its kind in Malawi offering critical support services to both women and children who have experienced gender based violence of various forms.

 

Women or children exposed to violence can now be taken out of their community where perpetrators remain. The resources offered at the Home of Mercy are based on the foundational belief that victims of sexual abuse require a safe place where they have the opportunity to heal on a long term basis in order that they may return to their communities in the future. While some women and children live at the home, others attend weekly programming where they have the opportunity to build community with others who have experienced similar trauma.

Currently, in between 20 and 60 individuals are benefitting from services provided at the Home of Mercy. Such services are working to ensure a greater number of women and children in Malawi may be supported in their journey of healing in efforts to break the cycle of violence moving forward. Women and their families are also equipped with tools in the form of an education and employment skills training as a means to promote a sustainable future separate from their abusers. In addition to the establishment of the Home of Mercy, counsellors have also entered into conversations with both men and women surrounding the issue of gender based violence as a means to break down the root causes of violence within communities. Through these discussions, local communities are also educated on the laws surrounding sexual abuse.

Moving forward, our partners hold big dreams. Wow’s partner has plans to expand their impact within Malawi through the construction of new facilities on the same site as the Home of Mercy as a means to offer more individuals with a place of refuge. Construction is underway for the second facility. Our partners have also expressed a desire to implement preventative gender based violence programs as a means to prevent future cases of violence within communities. They plan to implement gender based violence awareness campaigns and mentorship programs geared towards young girls in hopes of educating future generations at a young age about gender based violence.

If you would like to be involved in supporting these current initiatives or helping move these dreams forward, please feel free to get in touch with us at info@wowmission.com. We are excited to see how God will use this fruitful ministry moving forward to reach His daughters.

References

Government of Malawi. (2017). Malawi demographic and health survey 2015-2016. Retrieved from https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR319/FR319.pdf

UN Women. (2013). Violence against children and young women in Malawi: Findings from a national survey 2013. Retrieved from http://evaw-global-database.unwomen.org/-/media/files/un%20women/vaw/full%20text/africa/malawi%20violence%20against%20children%20survey%202013.pdf?vs=1244